Public Lands

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 10 Most Important Environmental Law Decisions of 2022

Climate Change, Water Rights, Environmental Justice & Federalism Issues Highlighted the Ninth Circuit’s Prodigious Environmental Docket This Year

I’ve shared in previous posts my view that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is–after the U.S. Supreme Court–the most influential court in the nation when it comes to environmental and natural resources law.  That’s true for two related reasons: first, the sprawling Ninth Circuit encompasses nine different states (including California) and …

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Wasting Gas

A proposed rule limiting flaring and venting of natural gas is a win for everyone except greedy oil and gas operators.   

Yesterday, the Interior Department posted a proposed rule to limit flaring and venting of natural gas on public lands. The rule will be good for everyone except the oil and gas operators who waste the gas, increasing methane and carbon emissions while giving the public nothing in return.  The rule is clearly a step in …

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Coordinating Climate Policy

We have a White House climate czar. That’s not going to be enough.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) creates a massive funding program for clean energy and other climate policies. This funding complements regulatory efforts at EPA elsewhere.  Yet authority over energy policy is fragmented at the federal level. Without better coordination, there’s a risk that various policies will mesh poorly or operate at cross-purposes. And state governments, …

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National Parks, Climate Change, and Active Management

When should park managers response to fire risk and climate change through active management?

This summer, the Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit challenging active management projects in Yosemite National Park – those projects involve the cutting of trees to reduce the risk of fire (or that is the explanation of the National Park Service for the projects).  The tree cutting was begun this past year, and the National …

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Where Are They Now?

Remember Trump’s appointees — Pruitt, Zinke, and the rest? Here’s where they went afterwards.

Trump’s environmental appointees were a motley crew, many lacking in relevant expertise; others with shaky ethical standards. While in office, they were daily sources of torment for environmentalists. Where are they now?  For most, being in the cabinet has been a stepping stone to nowhere. Here’s the Trump crew and their last known whereabouts. David …

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The climate bill and oil and gas leasing

Provision in big climate bill that mandates oil and gas leasing on federal lands has limited reach

The big news in climate policy this past week was Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) signing off on a deal with the Democratic Senate Majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on climate investments – the bill is catchily called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  I’ll take a look at the …

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Protecting the federal estate

Understanding the Property Clause’s location in Article IV clarifies the power of Congress and the federal government to protect public lands

In my previous blog post, I discussed how the location of the Property Clause in Article IV can help answer key debates about congressional versus executive power under the Clause, as well as federal versus state power under the Clause.  Here I want to draw on the principles I developed in the prior blog post: …

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Taking Article IV Seriously

How “horizontal federalism” can help us understand federal power over the public lands

Can the President unilaterally end fossil fuel leasing on federal lands?  Or does this policy decision require Congressional intervention?  Can the President unilaterally terminate existing National Monuments that protect federal public lands from development?  Or does this policy decision also require Congressional intervention?  Does federal law preempt state law on federal lands?  Or does the …

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Our Common Ground

New book on history of federal public lands is an essential contribution

America’s public lands are a national, and even international, treasure.  Over a quarter of the United States is owned and managed by the federal government.  Public lands provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.  They provide valuable habitat for species and ecosystems.  They provide important natural resources, such as timber and minerals, that are both important …

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Clarifying the Congressional Review Act

The Ninth Circuit rules on the preclusive effect of a CRA disapproval in a wilderness protection case.

Soon after Trump took office, Republicans used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn sixteen Obama-era regulations. If they win control of the government in 2024, they’ll undoubtedly do the same thing to Biden regulations. It behooves us, then, to understand the effect of these legislative interventions. A Ninth Circuit ruling last week in a …

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